Keynote address by Dr. Anna Birch FRSA

Practice Research: Artist and Activist

 Professor Anna Birch (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)

Keynote speech – Thursday 18th January – 10:15-11:30 – Embassy Theatre

Respondent: Dr. Amanda Stuart Fisher (RCSSD)

Theatre, performance and drama share their own taxonomy, genealogy and vocabulary. As participants in this area of debate and knowledge production we are fortunate that the particular ecology we inhabit offers both dynamism and vitality. At the intersection of seemingly disparate research fields Practice Research can perhaps build bridges to make evident and visible the intersection between past events and our preoccupations in the present. What might be learnt about our lives now if we consider how three apparently disparate foci intersect e.g. the role of archival saving as performing erasure (Schneider, 2003, Taylor, 2003) and forge links with the #NO GREY AREA campaign and examples of direct action profiled in the 100-year anniversary events #VOTE100? In a recent book review by Jaqueline Rose on Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard the notion of parades is evoked. Since processions, pageants and parades underscore much of my thinking and my ‘living monuments’ methodology (Birch 2012, 2013, 2015, 2018) Beard’s manifesto provides a context for my provocation:

‘Beard is describing the poison of patriarchy as it drips into the body politic of what parades under the banner of civilisation.’ (Accessed 28 November 2017)

Anna coordinated the PhD programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland from 2010-2017 as Research Lecturer, Drama. In 2015, she was made a Professor of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

She was keynote and facilitator for AHRC Research Network Memory, Music and Movement, Cape Breton University, Canada (October 2017) and Recovering Women’s Past: New Epistemologies, New Ventures University of Edinburgh, IASH and Institut Francais Ecosse (2016). Anna presented ‘The Wollstonecraft Live Experience!’ at Mary Wollstonecraft: Life Work and Legacy Conference, University of Hull and Hull City of Culture (March 2017). ‘Mary Wollstonecraft Trail Blazer to Parliament’ in Women’s Voices and Parliament (eds) John Vice (Hansard, House of Lords) and Maggie Inchley will be published in early 2018 to celebrate VOTE100.

The Women’s History Network annual Community History Project prize (sponsored by The History Press) Highly Commended March of Women 2016. Her short film MARCH (2016) was screened at the House of Commons for Women’s History Month and UTOPIA festival, Somerset House, London, UK She is co-editor with Professor Katharine Cockin (University of Essex) Performance-Research-History: Pageants and Pioneers from Hrotsvit to Women’s Suffrage Drama (pending).

Anna is an external examiner for the Theatre Arts, Education and Deaf Studies (TAEDS), BA (Hons) at University of Reading and the MA Costume, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, UK.